Distribution of Burkholderia pseudomallei in Northern Australia, a land of diversity

McRobb, Evan, Kaestli, Mirjam, Price, Erin P., Sarovich, Derek S., Mayo, Mark, Warner, Jeffrey, Spratt, Brian G., and Currie, Bart J. (2014) Distribution of Burkholderia pseudomallei in Northern Australia, a land of diversity. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 80 (11). pp. 3463-3468.

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Burkholderia pseudomallei is a Gram-negative soil bacillus that is the etiological agent of melioidosis and a biothreat agent. Little is known about the biogeography of this bacterium in Australia, despite its hyperendemicity in the northern region of this continent. The population structure of 953 Australian B. pseudomallei strains representing 779 and 174 isolates of clinical and environmental origins, respectively, was analyzed using multilocus sequence typing (MLST). Bayesian population structure and network SplitsTree analyses were performed on concatenated MLST loci, and sequence type (ST) diversity and evenness were examined using Simpson's and Pielou's indices and a multivariate dissimilarity matrix. Bayesian analysis found two B. pseudomallei populations in Australia that were geographically distinct; isolates from the Northern Territory were grouped mainly into the first population, whereas the majority of isolates from Queensland were grouped in a second population. Differences in ST evenness were observed between sampling areas, confirming that B. pseudomallei is widespread and established across northern Australia, with a large number of fragmented habitats. ST analysis showed that B. pseudomallei populations diversified as the sampling area increased. This observation was in contrast to smaller sampling areas where a few STs predominated, suggesting that B. pseudomallei populations are ecologically established and not frequently dispersed. Interestingly, there was no identifiable ST bias between clinical and environmental isolates, suggesting the potential for all culturable B. pseudomallei isolates to cause disease. Our findings have important implications for understanding the ecology of B. pseudomallei in Australia and for potential source attribution of this bacterium in the event of unexpected cases of melioidosis.

Item ID: 33889
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1098-5336
Funders: Australian National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), Menzies School of Health Research, Charles Darwin University
Projects and Grants: NHMRC 605820 and 1046812
Date Deposited: 25 Jun 2014 08:56
FoR Codes: 11 MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES > 1108 Medical Microbiology > 110801 Medical Bacteriology @ 100%
SEO Codes: 92 HEALTH > 9204 Public Health (excl. Specific Population Health) > 920404 Disease Distribution and Transmission (incl. Surveillance and Response) @ 100%
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